Spike Jones

The Craziest Show on Earth

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The label initials G & O are an abbreviation for the Goldberg and O'Reilly Music Company, which released this three-record box set through a special leasing arrangement with the Spike Jones estate, distributing exclusively through mail order catalogs and late-night television. The recorded legacy of this musical madman is about as hither and yon in terms of repackagings and odd compilations as can be expected considering the age of the recordings and shifting ownership of the masters over the years. And although this type of "special product" is often assembled cheaply and carelessly, purchasers of this particular box will feel well rewarded. Pressings are good with big, fat bristling sound quality. Over three sides there is plenty of room for the sure-fire hits such as "Der Fuehrer's Face," "William Tell Overture," and the like, as well as more extended pieces such as the stunning medley "The Big Bands" and the totally nuts "Tchaikovsky Medley," which packs excerpts from a half dozen classical masterworks into less than four minutes. Unlike many other satirical musical ensembles, Jones made fun of music and music only, never dipping into slams at his audience or society in general. Thus his music is a dish that can be shared by many different types of listeners, all of whom should be delighted by the sense of surprise and amazing musical virtuosity. One doesn't go to collections such as this to find detailed liner notes, so the very slight effort made by tape editor Ted Hering shouldn't be savaged, but he could have at least have provided more information on the composers, some of which is missing completely. Hering makes up for it by unintentionally summing up the entire Jones oeuvre by commenting on the arrangement of "Chloe" thusly: "It's hard to believe this used to be a serious song."

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:46
2 2:15
3 3:54
4 2:07
5 2:19
6 3:30
7 3:38
8 2:51
9 3:00
10 3:43
11 5:16
12 4:11
13 1:40
14 5:03
15 2:53
16 5:00
17 8:13
18 6:14
19 1:23
20 5:04
21 2:35
22 6:22
23 3:10
24 3:04
25 2:55
26 2:19
27 2:17
28 3:25
29 3:15
30 1:36
31 2:17
32 2:20
33 2:32
34 2:12
35 1:51
36 4:39
37 2:10
blue highlight denotes track pick